Bill Murray is in another zombie movie and it should immediately join “Zombieland” as a midnight movie cult favorite like “The Room” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Aside from being perhaps the slowest zombie movie ever, this movie about the walking dead is also very self-aware, with characters actually singing along to the theme song music and openly mentioning reading its script.
With a dream indie cast and their inside jokes, “Dead” might not be for everyone, but if you like offbeat movies starring a zombie Iggy Pop and a headless Selena Gomez, this film’s for you.
Writer/Director Jim Jarmusch broke out over a decade ago with “Broken Flowers” and has since had success with haunting videos for Tom Waits, Talking Heads, Neil Young and The Raconteurs. His first movie in six years utilizes all his usual suspects including Tilda Swinton, Murray, Steve Buscemi, Adam Driver and even Tom Waits himself. He isn’t looking for mainstream success, and “Dead” puts him in no further danger of that.
In the small town of Centreville, Ohio, Mayberry-style police only Wes Anderson could love (Murray and Driver) do their regular rounds on a day like any other day until they start to notice odd behavior on their route.
Pets go crazy first, weird mushrooms grow in the woods, day is night and night is day. Apparently, fracking at the poles shifted the Earth on its access just enough to kill power to everything and make the dead rise from the city graveyard, wandering around in search of their favorite old haunts eating people.
If coffee was your jam when alive, you return to the local diner and eat the waitress. Rotting children who loved candy and comic books take over the neighborhood five and dime. Phones and watches may be dead but undead millennials still like holding them as real iPhone zombies roam the streets. When a group of teenagers stops into the Centreville motel on a road trip, we know what’s going to happen to them even before Officer Brody can say, “This isn’t going to end well.” And when Kylo Ren says it, we can feel how right he is.
Amidst all the gore, we do get to see a MAGA Steve Buscemi attacked by zombies and Selena Gomez finally receives the sparkly gold halo she always deserved. Caleb Landry Jones (“Three Billboards,” “American Made,” “Get Out,” “The Florida Project” and “Twin Peaks”) continues his streak as the latest addition to my list of “if he’s in it, I want to see it” movies as Centreville’s resident zombie expert and comic book store owner.
Murray is subdued in contrast to the mayhem but Swinton doesn’t let her fans down as a kind of fabulous blonde Michonne. It’s clear she was always meant to play this role, but is she even acting? It could be a documentary as far as her inspired, oddball career is concerned.
If there is such a thing as a fifth wall in storytelling, this cast broke it, or maybe crossed clear into another dimension. And there is a spaceship, of course.